Singers’ happy season

Of all the sights, smells, flavors, and sounds that accompany this time of year, the music tops my list. Ensembles of all ages, sizes, and types fill our lives with music to sing, ring, play, and best of all, hear. As an enthusiastic singer for most of my 85 years, I can say with confidence that singers love the music of this season. Well, most of it.

During recent weeks, I have rehearsed and sung, in concert and worship, music ranging from Bach to Berlin, Vaughan Williams to Honegger, and a varied bunch in between, all of it about Hanukkah and Christmas. Singing familiar carols comes naturally, but some of the less familiar works require more, well, work.

Take Honegger.

Arthur Honegger, born in France to Swiss parents, was born in 1892 and died in 1955. He loved trains, speed and virile sports. Much of his music is rhythmic and dissonant, and some of it is devilishly hard to sing. He wrote Une Cantate de Noel, his final composition, in 1953. Voices, a 110-singer chorus in which I am a member, rehearsed this work for many weeks, preparing to sing it in two concerts this past weekend. Trust me, we worked hard but, it’s fair to say, struggled to master Honegger’s complexities. Under the determined leadership of our outstanding conductor, we finally mastered it, and supported by a fine orchestra and an angelic children’s choir, delivered it to appreciative audiences. All of us grew musically from the experience.

We express some of our deepest feelings with music that we compose, play and sing, especially at this time of year. We do this out of a genuine love of such music and its messages and a strong desire to share it with others. We like to believe that most who hear it are affected in a positive way.

The beat goes on, as they say. In two days, I will join a combined choir of children and adults to sing a service of Lessons and Carols, a service whose origin is attributed to Truro Cathedral in Cornwall, England in the 1880s. In this service, the story of coming of the Messiah and the birth of Jesus is told in nine short Bible readings interspersed by carols and hymns.

The congregation/audience is sure to feel enriched by this. So will the singers.

Especially the singers. Especially this singer.


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